Thailand - South
Bangkok to Phuket - Coastal Southern Thailand, Far From The Madding Crowds
If you are looking to see the Thailand your friends visit on holiday, if you want the same experience as 99% of Westerners in Thailand, then this cycling holiday is absolutely not for you. If however you are looking to see a Thailand that is still the land of smiles, where Thai people are friendly and interested in why you are travelling through their country, a Thailand of fishermen and farmers and small seaside towns revolving around the laid-back local people, then it is difficult to think of a better way to see the country than cycling south Thailand.
If you wish to truly experience Thailand then this tour could well be for you.
At a Glance
Total Days: 13
Cycling Days: 10
Daily Average: 70km
Max. Alt.: 300m
2019: 22 Dec - 03 Jan: $2600.00
2020: 02 Feb - 14 Feb: $2600.00
The design brief for this tour was to keep it light and fun. An evening or pre-breakfast swim, relaxing on the beach plugged into an iPod, or simply enjoying the late afternoon sun with an ice cold beer and good company is as much a part of the character of this tour as the cycling.
Once we leave Bangkok most nights are spent within a stone's throw of a beach, sometimes right on the sand. Those overnight stops that are not beachside are chosen for their stunning location.
The roads we ride are in the main part quiet and generally well surfaced. We worked hard to plot a route that avoids the main highway and as a result, we have some wonderful winding trails, sometimes tarmac, sometimes concrete, and sometimes hard packed dirt running through banana plantations and coconut groves. Alas, we do have 10KMS where the main highway is unavoidable - but for those wishing to avoid it, there is always the support vehicle.
The route is as flat as any two-week cycling tour could be, although there are of course some climbs and on a couple of days, there are rolling undulations.
Accommodation is always air-conditioned with en-suite bathrooms in guest-houses and hotels picked for their location and character.
Absolutely bloody marvellous. To have the pleasure to meet such wonderful people, to visit places some people only dream about, to enjoy the commradery which evolves during the tour is something I will never forget. The expertise shown by the tour guide and his staff was exceptional. At no time did I have concerns. A trip I would have no hesitation in recommending. Thank you David for giving me a wonderful experience and memories I shall never forget.
Eric Lay on Thailand - South
Bangkok’s charming Samsen neighbourhood, sunset over the fairytale-like view at Ratchaprahpa Dam, the tranquil island of Koh Yao Noi, and Phuket’s lovely Nai Yang Beach. But above and beyond all a series of coastal roads tracks trails and beaches, Thai cuisine, and the ever friendly people of Thailand away from the tourist trail.
Included in this tour
All accommodation, English speaking Thai guide and tour leader, support vehicle (1 or 2 depending on group size), meals on cycling days, snacks during cycling days, drinking water whilst cycling, ferries to and from Koh Yao Noi.
As always with PaintedRoads, this tour will be accompanied by David
The tour delivered just what was promised! An escape from the UK Autumn to great weather, white sandy beaches and a chance to see the Thailand bypassed by so many tourists. I’ve been lucky enough to go on several cycle holidays, and I can without any hesitation say that David ‘Walks’ Walker is the best tour guide I’ve come across. He just makes sure that everything works – the group wanted for nothing and whilst out on the road he cruised effortlessly up and down the group making sure each of us was OK. This was my second tour with David, and it certainly won’t be my last!
Mark Hoskins on Thailand - South
If you arrive at either of Bangkok's International airports on the first day of the tour you will be met there and transferred to our joining hotel. If you are arriving on another day or are not flying in please let us know so that we can help with arrangements. Full joining instructions will be given during the week before the tour begins. Typically though the group will meet the tour leader in the hotel lobby early evening (between 5 and 6) for a briefing before heading out for dinner.
As two weeks cycling holidays go cycling south Thailand is fairly easy. The route is to a large extent flat, although there are one or two days with undulations. It should be noted that there are three days with a distance of between 90 and 110 KMS, so it is not a ride for the complete novice.
I very much enjoyed my first cycling holiday with Painted Roads, I’m sure there will be others. David was a fantastic tour leader and looked after everyone splendidly. The scenery was amazing and there was a good balance of relaxing time and cycling.
Caroline Reading on Thailand - South
At PaintedRoads we hold firmly to the opinion that using your own bike, the bike on which you feel at home and comfortable is the finest way to enjoy a cycling adventure.
Most kinds of bicycle, except light-weight racing bikes, are suitable for this tour: touring bikes, mountain bikes, hybrids or cyclocross bikes are all fine. Road conditions vary from asphalt to gravel and some hard packed dirt tracks. Tyres from 35mm in width upwards will be fine but we recommend 40mm on 700c and 2” on 26” wheels as a minimum.
South East Asia is generally a warm place so the ability to carry one or two water bottles is essential (either on your bike or in a backpack). Our back-up vehicle carries water and tools although for those competent with tools bringing your own pump, puncture kit, and multi took is recommended as it would speed up repairs and minor adjustments. If bringing your own bike please bring along a few spare spokes that fit your wheels (please note that different wheels have different size spokes). If your bike has disk brakes or hub gears please bring any components that you feel may be necessary. We carry some spares for our hire bikes but we cannot guarantee that we will have any tubes other than 26” car type valves. Tyres and tubes other than 26” can be difficult to come by in many parts of the world so please make sure you have spares. If in doubt please ask at your local bike shop. A means of carrying your camera, sunblock etc is also useful – either an on-bike bag, handlebar or saddlebag for example or a lightweight day-pack.
ESSENTIAL! Please be sure that your bicycle is in perfect condition before you leave home. Again, if in doubt please consult your local bike shop.
We too are missing our daily dose of pedaling, of Tom Yam and fried rice, of swimming on nice beaches, and of your good company. (and beers and gin tonics !) We truly enjoyed these few days – even Eva, which is certainly the utmost compliment we can make. As I told you, I have particularly appreciated your personal involvement to make everyone feel comfortable, and to share what you like with enthusiasm. It is so different from a traditional guide, who simply does his job. We will definitely call you for another cycling experience. But for now, back to work …
Jean-Daniel, Anne, Vincent, Eva on Thailand - South
Rental Bikes: If you wish to hire a bicycle we can arrange for the hire of good quality cycles from our in-country agent. Typically these bikes are mountain bikes, often Trek 3 series or similar. Please request a hire bike at the time of booking. Payment for hire bikes can be made with the balance of the tour payment or in cash on arrival.
Rental Bicycle Recommendation. Although our hire bikes come equipped with a saddle if you have a saddle you use and are happy with it is strongly recommended that you use it on tour. If you use SPD type shoes please bring your own matching pedals. We are happy to fit these for you. You may also like to bring bar ends if you use them at home.
(meals key: B = breakfast; L = lunch; D = dinner:; S = snacks)
Day 1: Arrival in Bangkok.
Arriving at either Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi or Don Muang International Airport you will be met and transferred to our hotel in the Samsen district. A quiet residential area populated by Thai families and expats, Samsen gives a vastly different and more authentic view of Bangkok life than the more mainstream tourist areas. This evening the group will come together with their tour leader for a briefing and to get to know each other over a meal of delicious Thai food.
Day 2: Bangkok to Prachuap Khiri Khan.
Following breakfast, we will acquaint ourselves with our bicycles before boarding our AC support bus and leaving the hectic traffic and pollution of Bangkok far behind as we head to the seaside town of Prachuap Khiri Khan, the start point of our ride to Phuket. After lunch we can saddle up and take a short ride to stretch our legs. Following the coast, we visit a beautiful wooden Buddhist temple before riding to a splendid crescent beach in the middle of an airbase for a splash in the sea and a sunset beer - welcome to Thailand.
Day 3: Pretchuap Khiri Khan to Ban Krut.
Our first full day of cycling is a fascinating mix of smooth tarmac, hard packed dirt trails and concrete lanes as the route winds to and from the coast making its way south through coconut groves, palm oil plantations and a national park. We will arrive at the small Thai style holiday resort town of Ban Krut with daylight to spare for a pre-dinner dip in the briny.
Day 4: Ban Krut to Ban Bang Burd.
Leaving Ban Krut we follow mile after mile of deserted coastline and pass through a little fishing community before reaching a well-kept secret, a wonderful little cove where we will stop for our morning break.
Due to the short distance to be covered today we will reach the lovely little fishing village of Ban Bang Burd in time for lunch and a leisurely afternoon lounging by the resort’s pool or wandering around the bay that is the focal point of the village. At the northern end of the village colourful squid boats moor up during the day. Come nightfall we can watch the bright lights of these squid boats bob up along the horizon as we dine beachside.
Day 5: Ban Bang Burd to Thung Wau Lean.
We leave Bang Burd on a new, wide, perfectly surfaced road with wonderful red bicycle lanes. Despite the elaborate nature of this road, there is very little traffic and the views over the azure blue sea and emerald forests are quite stunning. Atop one of the rises is a Chinese temple well worth a visit for its huge statues of a wide selection of deities, its wonderful views, and its rather graphic depiction of the heaven and hell realms. The rest of the ride tracks the coast on quiet rural roads towards the little Thai resort town of Thung Wua Lean.
Day 6: Thung Wau Lean: Rest Day.
Thung Wau Lean is a quiet seaside town 20KMS north of the provincial capital town of Chumphon. A popular spot for Thai families to picnic by the beach on weekends it is still little frequented by Western tourists who prefer to take a ferry to the bustling islands of Koh Samui and Koh Pang Nang. There is plenty of scope here for more cycling, swimming, or in season kite surfing. For those inclined more towards relaxation, our resort boasts an infinity pool with fine views of the beach which is just meters away. The town offers plenty of dining and drinking opportunities ranging from traditional Thai seafood to pizza to a beachside blues bar.
DAY 7: Thung Wau Lean to Paknam Lansuan
We begin by taking a back road route that navigates around the city of Chumphon without our even realising the city is there. A few kilometres of red dirt trail is necessary to avoid joining the main north-south Asia Highway. Back on sealed roads, we make our way through palm and coconut plantations where we may see trained monkeys collecting coconuts.
Tonight we again dine beachside as we overnight in a small characterful resort.
DAY 8: Paknam Lansuan to Lam Sai Beach
Today we ride alongside beaches, through rubber and palm plantations and past fishing villages. Before we reach our destination for the day we take to a brief off-road section where we follow a sheer cliff face to a sacred meditation cave containing ancient Buddha statues. At the far side of the cavern, a huge reclining Buddha is illuminated by a shaft of natural light from a hole in the cave’s roof. After we leave the cave we make our way once more to the sea where our home for the night is once again on the beach, as is our restaurant.
DAY 9: Lam Sai Beach to Ratchaprapha
This morning we leave the Gulf of Thailand behind as we begin our journey west towards the small inland town of Ban Tha Khun.
Once we have taken up residence in our rooms we can take the short transfer to Ratchaprapha Dam where we can enjoy pre-dinner drinks as we watch the sun setting over the stunning Chiao Lan Reservoir. This is a beautiful scenic spot where the sight of the lake trailing off through karst spires may well stir the imagination to thoughts of myth.
Day 10: Ratchaprapha to Ao Luk
We now head towards Ao Luk, our gateway to the jagged karst spires protruding through crystal sea at Phang Na Bay, an icon of Thai beach life. Our ride follows mostly rural roads, occasionally unsealed, weaving through palm groves and rubber plantations.
DAY 11: Ao Luk to Koh Yao Noi
Our final morning on the mainland is a ride through a verdant blanket of tropical flora through which limestone pinnacles reach skyward as we wind towards Thalin Pier. A traditional long-tail boat will take us through a fairy-tail like seascape of jutting jagged cliffs to the tiny island of Koh Yao Noi. It is little short of astonishing that just a short ride from one of Asia’s premier tourist destinations an island can remain so tranquil and unspoiled by tourism. A twenty kilometres lap of the island offers a lovely ride on roads that are amazingly free of cars and high on beautiful views. For those feeling less energetic today's guesthouse is just across a narrow road from a sandy beach affording stunning views.
DAY 12: Koh Yao Noi to Phuket
A short ride to the pier and another hour at sea takes us to the tropical gem that is Phuket Island. Similar in size to Singapore and joined to the mainland by twin bridges in the north, Phuket offers all things to all men. The wild anything and everything goes beachside party town of Patong in the south is in stark contrast to the lazy Nai Yang Beach where we spend our final night together. Being just five minutes from the international airport one would expect this to be a beach teeming with tourists. Fortunately, the reality is that most tourists pass Nai Yang by in a mad dash to the south, leaving this beautiful little beach as a perfect spot for a final evening watching the sunset as we reminiscing about a wonderful bicycle ride through Thailand.
DAY 13: Finish
The tour officially finishes this morning. For those who are flying out today, we will provide transport to Phuket International Airport.
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£ Pound Sterling Payment Option
Our prices are all in US dollars but we can offer you the option of paying in GBP (£) based on the exchange rate at the time of booking. You can choose on the booking form, adjusted prices will be shown there.
2019: 22 Dec - 03 Jan
2020: 02 Feb - 14 Feb
The prices quoted above are for a twin room share basis. If you are travelling alone you will be paired up with another lone traveler of the same gender to share with. Single room occupancy can be arranged, the single supplement rate shown is per person.
** Early Bird Discount.
Book with a deposit four or more months prior to the tour running to secure your place at this discount price.
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